So instead of buying Tiffany or Burberry, as long rumoured, LVMH has snapped up Italian brand Loro Piana, known for their baby cashmere and vicuna, which take soft to a whole other level. It’s a strategic move, on many levels that go far beyond quantifiable profit, even in a world obsessed with putting a number on that amorphous thing known as “brand equity.” There are a lot of reasons why, but if I had to pick the most important, I’d settle on the following: family.
Stuart McCullough, the CEO of Woolmark, wants to relaunch wool as a brand. A luxury brand. Woolmark, of course, is already a logo, and there are unquestionably luxury fibres (see cashmere, vicuna, silk), but to turn a fibre itself into a brand seems like – well, a challenge. Isn’t it a material? Can materials be brands? Is this the ultimate example of the contemporary belief that everything, but everything – people, dogs, washing machines – can be a brand? Maybe. But the does have two recent developments going for him.
Today my colleague Scheherazade Daneshkhu has written a terrific piece about the luxury race to the vertical – the move among the big groups to own not only their own manufacturing and retail, but their suppliers – and lo! what should happened but yet more proof of the trend: Loro Piana has bought a majority stake in the Argentinian alpaca producer Sanin SA. It ain’t just about leather and python anymore: now fibers are in the mix. And I wonder how far it will go?